The University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine has partnered with the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) to launch a pilot workshop in art education, an offshoot of a medical school course centered on medical ethics and humanities.
In small groups, second-year medical students attend one evening session at the downtown gallery. Learning from art educators and physicians, the future docs improve their visual literacy and learn how to apply to medical practice the skills of observing and looking critically at works of art.
“While this has been done in many American and Canadian medical schools, it is a new initiative here in Winnipeg; it demonstrates a collaborative and innovative approach to helping our students become better doctors,” said Dr. Merril Pauls, Director, Pre-clerkship, Faculty of Medicine.
Each three-hour session is divided into two parts. The first hour and a half is spent with WAG art educators in exhibition spaces where students look at different works and engage in discussions.
“An individual’s personal knowledge, background, ideas and assumptions affect how they observe and interpret visual phenomena,” said Anna Wiebe, Head of Education at the WAG. “Whether it’s art or in a clinical environment, visual literacy skills can be applied,” she added. “How do I observe a patient’s behavior and his or her symptoms? What am I expecting to find based on my own preconceived notions?”
During the second part of the seminar, the students work closely with faculty members (academic physicians) and apply the same skills to a health context by viewing medical images and identifying what they are seeing.
“Sometimes we think that the skills you need to be a doctor are just scientific skills you learn at medical school, but it’s also crucial that our students learn the specific skill of looking, observing carefully, looking a second time, and understanding how what you see could be interpreted in different ways,” said Pauls. “We want our graduates not to see their patients as a disease or an illness, but to see them as people and understand their frustration, their anxiety and their fears. Learning visual literacy and visual skills can help them become better doctors.”
Media are invited to attend tonight’s workshop at the WAG. Please arrive at 6:00 p.m.
For more information, or requests for an interview, contact Ilana Simon, Director of Communications & Marketing, Faculty of Medicine, at: 204-789-3427 or 204-295-6777 (firstname.lastname@example.org).